When Eddie and Bob performed golf: Van Halen’s unlikely look in 1994 Hope Basic

When Eddie and Bob played golf: Van Halen's unlikely appearance in 1994 Hope Classic

Larry Bohannan
| Palm Springs Desert Solar

It was the custom of the previous Bob Hope Basic, now the American Specific match, that the defending champion would play the primary spherical the next 12 months with Bob Hope in what was referred to as the featured group. So it was in 1994, when Tom Kite performed the primary day with Hope, President Gerald Ford and rock star Eddie Van Halen.

Wait, what? Eddie Van Halen? Taking part in golf?

The Southern California rocker who reshaped how folks play the guitar – and who died this previous week on the age of 65 after a protracted battle with most cancers — might need appeared just like the proverbial fish out of water when he teed up within the 1994 Hope match.

The progressive musician was paired for 4 days with Hope and Ford, neither of whom appeared like they might significantly recognize Van Halen’s artistry on the guitar on songs like “Panama” or “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Actually, given the conservative picture of the PGA Tour, it was doable that lots of people across the match hadn’t even heard of Eddie Van Halen or his band, Van Halen.

However Van Halen’s look within the match was simply the form of factor that Bob Hope relished in his movie star pro-am. The guitar god admitted as a lot.

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“I met Bob Hope over at Lakeside Nation Membership (in Toluca Lake) about six months in the past and he requested me if I needed to play,” Van Halen instructed The Desert Solar that first day of the 1994 occasion. “I had no concept I might be taking part in with Bob. And President Ford. And Tom Kite.”

That was pure Bob Hope. When Hope was the ring chief of the match, he understood that entertaining the gallery was extra vital than nice golf from the 30 or so celebrities who have been within the match every year. That’s why Hope would invite astronauts and congressmen and senators and red-hot leisure personalities to his match, and even the pairing of Invoice Clinton and George H.W. Bush in 1995, the 2 candidates within the earlier presidential election.

Hope figured these folks would promote tickets and let the gallery have a very good time. If Gerald Ford occurred to spray a shot into the gallery and knock down a spectator, properly, it could make for a terrific story to advertise the occasion.

Hope needed to attract a crowd

That was far completely different than Hope’s buddy Bing Crosby, who had his personal match on the Monterey Peninsula. Crosby took his golf significantly, and needed celebrities in his match who might play to a decrease handicap. Hope needed folks in his match who would promote tickets or entice tv viewers.

And so it was with Van Halen. The picture of a long-haired rocker within the match not named Alice Cooper needed to tickle Hope’s creativeness, and certainly it was a front-page story in golf that week.

In idea, the match had a handicap restrict for amateurs of 18, that means for essentially the most half the participant would shoot round 90 for a spherical. However exceptions have been made for celebrities. Actor Richard Dreyfuss performed within the match one 12 months proper handed and will barely make contact with the ball. A number of years later, Dreyfuss returned taking part in left handed.

Van Halen, who turned a golf fanatic and was a member on the celebrity-laden Lakeside Nation Membership, was not near an 18 handicap on the 1994 occasion. Actually, a couple of folks talked about that Van Halen might need had higher luck swinging on the ball together with his guitar.

For his half, it didn’t assist that Van Halen would have felt extra comfy taking part in a solo in entrance of 100,000 folks than hitting a driver off the tee in entrance of a nationwide tv viewers.

“I’m very nervous,” he instructed The Desert Solar earlier than his first spherical at PGA West in La Quinta. “I’m not used to being in entrance of this many individuals and not using a guitar in my arms.”

Along with Hope, Ford and Kite, Van Halen additionally performed with professionals Peter Jacobsen, Payne Stewart and Fuzzy Zoeller within the 4 days of the pro-am when the match was nonetheless a five-day occasion. However even on the Hope match, Van Halen talked about getting increasingly more into the sport.

“I was get a six-pack and hang around with the fellows,” he stated. “However I’m getting extra critical about it. I didn’t deliver the six-pack this time.”

By the tip of the week, followers had flocked to see the rocker play golf, and Van Halen stated he had a good time in his one and solely look within the match.

That movie star period for golf on the PGA Tour is just about gone now, and so are Hope and Ford and now Van Halen. However there was a time when an 80-year-old comic, a former president of the US and a rock legend might get collectively for an pleasing spherical of golf within the desert.

Larry Bohannan is The Desert Solar golf author. He might be reached at (760) 778-4633 or larry.bohannan@desertsun.com. Observe him on Fb or on Twitter at Solar.@Larry_Bohannan. Assist native journalism: Subscribe to the Desert Solar.

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